We need to calm the eff down
Posted on July 19, 2012
It’s justifiably a worst nightmare, but child abduction in Canada is not the norm.
Missing Children Society of Canada looked at the 46,718 missing children recorded by the RCMP in 2011. The majority were runaways, parental kidnapping accounted for 145 and a stranger kidnapping was 25. Though absolutely horrifying, one missing child is too many, these numbers do not reflect Canada’s 5,607,345 fourteen years and under crowd recorded by Statistics Canada.
Parental abduction is what will most likely occur in the rare event that your child is kidnapped. It usually occurs between separated parents, where one is not abiding by the custody agreement.
The RCMP website says, “Canadian law enforcement definition of a stranger not only refers to someone totally unknown to the child victim but also refers to relatives, friends, and acquaintances.” So strangers are rarely true strangers.
Well if it doesn’t happen that often why are we always hearing about children kidnappings? The same reason we hear about shark attacks when they happen – they are rare occurrences. If news were about everyday stuff it wouldn’t be called news. It would be called stuff that happens all the time. Having it brought to our attention, such as through Amber Alerts, helps families find their children quicker. It’s about helping others, not fearing for ourselves.
Also, we are fucked up. My first-year journalism professor told our class that a newspaper in California only ran happy stories, and bombed. We as a people like the most terrifying, shocking stories.
A child being abducted is already a heart-wrenching story. I myself cry and physically hurt every time I hear of one. The more gruesome the story, the more it is shoved in our faces.
My well-intentioned neighbour says the reason I don’t fear Patience being abducted is because I don’t realize that this is Oshawa and I’ve led a sheltered life. He believes these things because I’m a friendly, happy person. The reason I am so fucking happy is because I’ve been abused every way possible from birth until a couple years ago. I’ve been through it all and I’m still sitting pretty, why shouldn’t I be smiling? As for living in Oshawa, there’s an Oshawa everywhere; the city, that gets an unshakable bad rep. I moved to Oshawa from Port Coquitlam. POCO is famous for the pig farmer who murdered sex workers, a big news story that, according to the RCMP, led to more stranger danger fears for our children. Again, what that guy did is not a normal occurrence – at all.
What parents really have to fear is the stigma they may get if they let their kids run outside, say hello to strangers or walk home from school without a parent. We have to fear the people who fear the improbable for our children. Even the asshole who yelled at me for Patience crossing the street on her own brought her back – and that guy is hands down the scariest guy living on my street.
We live in a time where a man fawning over a baby, the way a woman stereotypically would, is seen as perverted instead of caring. Children’s obesity rates are rising. Toy recalls are all over the place.
This anti-social behaviour is exclusive to Western culture. I’ve written about Craig Kielburger talking about villages raising children, my sister has written about the same thing when recounting her time helping in the Dominican Republic.
I have recently finished feminist writer Inga Muscio’s book, Cunt: A declaration of independence. In it she speaks of a lady named Jaleh, who fled Iran to America. Though grateful for her new life, Jaleh was shocked over how cold American women were to each other, while women in Iran cared for each other. I relate to this story because our sense of community here in Canada can easily be lost in a sea of paranoia. And that’s fucked up.
Canadian statistics of missing children has decreased since the beginning of their recording in 1987 by over 10,000. Things are getting better. And while I agree we must watch our children, teach them about safety, even enroll them in self-defense, I also believe we need to let them have a childhood.
When I bring this topic up, even with those opposed to me, people admit that they had fun growing up, running through forests, playing at their friends’ houses. Do you want to deny your child of these memories? It’s scary, I know. I get freaked out too. But we can’t let fear control our lives, nor those of our children.